Hopeful sermons rooted in real life

StillDaringToHope_Cover_WebStill Daring to Hope
John Regehr
CMU Press

What is the subject?

Still Daring to Hope is a collection of 20 sermons on a variety of biblical texts, culled from a life-time of teaching and preaching. The overall theme is hope, as the title suggests, which in the hands of this preacher involves an active commitment to change and growth and an openness to God’s surprises. The sermons consider questions of trust and doubt, dark places and guidance, and topics like meekness and forgiveness. And don’t let the word sermons put you off: these read like intimate conversations, full of stories and wisdom. The collection is enhanced by poetry, hymn texts and photographs. It’s a wonderful book.

Who is the author? 

John Regehr, or JR as he is widely known, has been a high school teacher, pastor, professor at Mennonite Brethren Bible College (Winnipeg), and counsellor. He dedicates this book to his late wife Mary. Her lovely, searching spirit – and participation in two sermons – weaves between his words.

What did I like about this book?

Full disclosure: I know the author; he preached at our wedding. I opened the book, therefore, warmly pre-disposed to it and easily “heard” JR’s voice on the page. I found the sermons deeply nourishing, and devotional in the best sense of that word, not for old acquaintance’s sake, but because of his unique ability to pair theological discovery with practical counsel rooted in his own spiritual journey and his wide experience with others. The exposition is solid, the autobiographical stuff makes it real.

Why read it?

Still Daring to Hope, with its warm invitation into ongoing growth and renewal reminds me of the many eagles we’re seeing around our hometown of Tsawwassen these days. When Psalm 103:5 speaks of the Lord renewing our youth like the eagle’s, the reference is to the eagle recovering vigour after molting. These magnificent birds shed old feathers for new ones, first to reach maturity and annually after that in order to remain adept and strong. PHOTO: Dayna Dueck

Read it because we need to cultivate hope. Because we need solid conversation about our fears, hurts, sins and struggles, and because that conversation needs to be accessible and practical, but deep. Read it because there are many books available to us about living the Christian life, but not many from within our denominational context, which makes it significant.

Who should read it?

Anyone who knew or studied under JR will enjoy this book. But many others ought to read it too. Younger folks (and perhaps pastors especially) will be blessed and encouraged. “Hope is Not a Hammock,” for one example, is excellent for both children and parents facing the legacy of an imperfect or harmful upbringing. Older readers will resonate with the sermon “Closing Well,” and the author’s “calling…to hunger and thirst after righteousness, to become, and remain a learner of Jesus.”

Favourite quotes

“[M]aturity is to be measured not in the tenacity with which I cling to convictions, but in the joy I find in being corrected about what I thought I had already learned. So, humble down and enjoy your mid-course corrections.” (27)

“If I want to meet God honestly, I’ll have to leave my Tower. I’ll have to let go what I know. I’ll have to come naked and vulnerable, open and receptive… Essentially I need to come to God now the way I will come to him in the moment of my death…just God and me.” (81)

Re. meekness, as seen in Jesus: “doing with soul strength what he needed to do, and then leaving the outcome to his Father.” (127)

[Dora Dueck is a writer based in B.C. She has served as editor of the MB Herald.

One Comment on “Hopeful sermons rooted in real life

  1. Thanks for the review! Appreciated the introduction to the book, and to JR. I’m too young to have been an in person beneficiary of his teaching, but grateful for the opportunity to benefit through access to his writing. Thanks for your accessible introduction to this collection of sermons.

    Kevin Koop
    Crestwood MB Church
    Medicine Hat, AB

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